Petitioning for Jeremiah Bourgeois' release from prison Stafford Creek Corrections Center
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Summary: Jeremiah Bourgeois "JJ" was a bright, talented and loving child. In his teens, during tumultuous family distress and living on the streets, he took a life, in an impulsive act of vengeance. In 1993 at 14 years of age, he was tried as an adult and received a life sentence without parole. On June 20, 2014 he was resentenced to a minimum of 25 years and a maximum term of life in jail.
Personal story: Little JJ was my childhood friend. He was a talented dancer at our dance academy. In 1987, (he was 9 years old then) we (JJ, his sister Paula and I) beat out 400 other dancers and booked this Crest commercial (he is the little African American boy in the front row in every group scene on the right side). I had since moved from our hometown in Seattle, Washington and 5 years later, heard that he was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man out of desperation, since the man had testified against JJ's big brother. I knew JJ, as a sweet and talented youth, full of promise and vitality. Studies reveal that the mind fully develops in decision making by the age of 25. As a mom with a 13 year old son of my own, I know how much an adolescent needs in order to stay on a straight path, in a world of dangerous influences. "It takes a village to raise a child." JJ's story is shared by many youths, who fall through the cracks. It has been a long 25 years in prison. He lives with the tragedy of a past he cannot change and the remorse of his crime. He has since, put his time behind bars to good use. He received in BA and writes for prominent law journals and other publications. He dreams to earn a law degree to help others, but a law program is not available to him in incarceration.
The issue: Despite JJ's reform, academic achievements, unprecedented accomplishments and years of exemplary behavior, the parole board denies his release, on the pretext that he would likely reoffend (although the board, themselves) commend him for his merits. Neither legal representation by NAACP Legal Defense Fund, nor support from judges or lawmakers have been enough to secure his release. In 2012, The Supreme Court prohibited the imposition of life sentences on children, recognizing that adolescent offenders have the capacity to grow in knowledge, maturity and perspective. JJ is manifest of this reality.
Take action! We all deserve clemency in our shame and a second chance to start anew. Please join us to carry a torch for JJ, and others who are underserved by our legal system. Stand with us to persuade the Dept. of Corrections Indeterminate Sentence Review Board for JJ's immediate release. Here is one of JJ's published works: https://thecrimereport.org/2018/01/22/why-i-am-not-a-recidivist/ There have been many convicts who turned their lives around and dedicated the rest of their lives to uplift humanity such as Malcom X, James Lehman and Joe Donato, to name a few. "Every life is sacred. Every human is endowed with an inalienable dignity. Society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted with crimes. A just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimenesion of hope and the goal of rehabilitation." Pope Francis, peace advocate.
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